Macs of my tears

For one of the City’s sleepier institutions, Macfarlanes has had a bit of a tumultuous 12 months.

Yeah okay, there was never going to be a Linklaters-style ’New World’ operation at a firm that is more old school than a group of Eton alumni wearing headbands and listening to Spandau Ballet, but two partners leaving what was once one of its standout practices will have come as a bit of a shock (see story).

Of the two property partners to exit stage left, Richard Reuben was on the verge of retirement anyway after more than 20 years in the partnership, but Ian Ginbey’s departure may be more significant. The head of planning has gone to Clydes, apparently, because of a better fit with his own ideas about the direction of the department.

But given that real estate no longer exists as a stand-alone group at Macs, it’s not hard to imagine that this could be the thin end of the wedge.

With profits falling over the last couple of years and reports of some internal mutterings at the firm, it wouldn’t be a surprise if there was a tacit acceptance that real estate is not the place to rebuild that formerly formidable PEP figure.

It just goes to show, in a recession a good real estate practice isn’t such a hot property.

Talking of real estate: next week is the Mipim property festival in Cannes. The Lawyer is inviting real estate lawyers to tweet what they’re up to. If you’re on Twitter, you can let @TheLawyerMag, @LawyerCatrin and @TheLawyerJames know if you want to get involved.

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In The Lawyer on Monday: infrastructure joy for Allen & Overy; why Osborne Clarke is rethinking its international strategy; and a searing analysis of Welsh lawyers in London.